At the close of life the question will be not how much have you got, but how much have you have given; not how much have you won, but how much have you done; not how much have you saved, but how much have you sacrificed; how much have you loved and served, not how much were you honored.-Nathan C. Schaeffer
I often think about what things will be like when I die, not because I’m morbid, but because I know that the way I look back upon my life depends upon what I do today. If I am to be on my deathbed someday, looking back on my life, what will I see? Will I see a lifetime during which I’ve served and given, or will I see a lifetime during which I’ve done everything I can to make myself feel better, or to make myself look better in the eyes of others?
Neither of these latter strategies seems to be fulfilling to me. I believe not that we’re physical creatures searching for spiritual experiences, but that we are spiritual creatures experiencing physical life. And if that’s the case, there’s much more to who we are than this planet and its trappings and temptations.
It’s very important that I treat myself well and respect myself, as long as that doesn’t degrade into selfishness or even hedonism. The better I treat myself, the more helpful I can be to other people on this planet.
But the true indicator of my contribution to life will not be what I did or bought for myself–it will be what I did or gave to others. I’m not wealthy, so I can’t give lots of money, but I do have the ability to give encouragement, praise, love, hope, and support. These are things that stick with people for a very long time, and that they’re more likely to pass on to others. And each time these things are given, the peace of this planet increases, and the amount of positive energy increases ever so slightly.
We can spend our lives always searching out honors or accolades, but my hope is that I spend my life searching out chances to help others without any thought of a return on what I give, without any expectations of how others will react to my help. In that way I’ll be giving sincerely, lovingly, and truly.
Questions to consider:
Why do so many people put so much importance on receiving honors and accolades from others?
What would your life be like if you were to focus only on giving without any expectations of return? Where would your fulfillment come from?
What do you want to look back on when you’re on your deathbed: a life of getting or a life of giving?
For further thought:
There is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving.-Henry Drummond